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"Facebook rape" trial starts in Sweden

Updated onsdag 15 mars 2017 kl 14.47
Published onsdag 15 mars 2017 kl 12.26
A picture of a computer screen, showing the logo for social media website Facebook
The gang rape was apparently broadcast via Facebook Live to a closed group with thousands of members. Credit: Janerik Henriksson / TT

Three young men went on trial in Sweden today, accused of carrying out a gang rape and apparently broadcasting it live on social media.

The prosecutor, Pontus Melander, said on Wednesday that his case is based on information from eight different witnesses but that he has not succeeded in getting the video itself from Facebook.

"I have been in contact with Facebook and the legal authorities in the US, but have not got any clear message about when I can get the film, or answers to my questions. Therefore, I have chosen to go ahead with a prosecution based on the evidence I have now, which is substantial and unusual in this type of case," said Melander.

Melander said "it is a unique situation to have so many witnesses to a suspected rape inside an apartment".

Two of the suspects, aged 18 and 21, are suspected of rape and the third, aged 24, is suspected of accessory to rape.

The incident took place in an Uppsala apartment in January. Police went to the apartment on the morning of January 22nd after members of a closed Facebook group reported that they had seen a rape being broadcast live on the social-media site.

In a second Facebook Live broadcast, witnesses saw the police officers entering the apartment. The livestream was cut off after a policeman turned toward the camera.

The three men were arrested on the spot, and have been held in custody since. They have all denied the allegations.

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